Saturday, January 30, 2010

Quote from Howard Zinn

"The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. The government will try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies. My hope is that you will not be content to be successful in the way our society measures success; that you will not obey the rules, when the rules are unjust; that you will act out the courage that I know is in you." ~ Howard Zinn - Address to Spelman College, 2005

Friday, January 29, 2010

Heal the world, make it a better place!

Look at how we spend our money!

U.S. Budget Priorities: This pie chart does not include the bailout or the massive increase Congress voted overwhelmingly to give the Pentagon for this year.

This came from Code Pink via an email.

Here is a message from the director of Voters for Peace:

In his first year President Obama broke several war-making records of President George W. Bush. He passed the largest military budget in U.S. history, the largest one-year war supplementals and fired the most drone attacks on the most countries. He began 2010 asking for another $30 billion war supplemental and with the White House indicating that the next military budget will be $708 billion, breaking Obama’s previous record.

While some commentators on MSNBC hailed Obama as the peace candidate, he has done more for war in a shorter time than many other commanders-in-chief. U.S. attacks on other countries are not challenged in any serious way even if they result in consistent loss of innocent civilian life. It is not healthy for American democracy to allow unquestioned militarism and put war budgets on a path of automatic growth despite the U.S. spending as much as the rest of the world combined on weapons and war.

Link to the rest of the article.

I am tired.

I am tired of all the top-down rules and directives that are stupid, harmful and illogical, no matter if they come from the federal government, state government, or my supervisors at work. I am tired of not being listened to. I am tired of seeing my country make wars that destroy the lives of millions of innocents.

I am tired of the kidnappings, rapes, torture, abuse and assassinations done by my government and my fellow citizens, and I am tired of seeing so much money being spent on such evil things. I am tired of the lies and the thieving. I am tired of seeing the planet abused and destroyed. I am tired of the incompetence in this country, and I am tired of people not taking responsibility for their decisions and actions. I am tired of listening to the bullshit and the excuses.

I am tired. My soul is tired.

Photo is dusk in Asheville, taken in December 2009.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Help Haiti Heal Benefit

A two day concert/event at White Horse Black Mountain. This will be from 7 PM to 11:30 PM on February 6th, and from 2 PM to 6 PM on February 7th.

I think this is wonderful that they are doing this!

More info here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Letter to Charlotte Observer 010910

We are in Afghanistan to prop up a very corrupt government. We are in Afghanistan, like in Iraq, to prop up geo-political interests and to reap big profits for the military industries. We are not there to help the people, we are not there for the safety of American citizens, and we are not there to benefit ordinary people in any country. We certainly are not there to deter terrorism, since our actions are inspiring more to become terrorists.

The point of our military is to kill our enemies and destroy their ability to hurt us. We do not have a military to chase down criminals in foreign countries, and we do not have a military to ‘build democracy’ or ‘bring peace’ to foreign nationals. We do not have a military to run elections in foreign countries, particularly elections that are corrupt. We do not have a military to assist other countries in exercising self-determination. And while it is noble to assist other countries to overcome poverty, that is not the job of our military either.

We have a military to destroy another country’s military that is intent on harming us. Because we are using our military to attack and occupy other countries that have not attacked us, we bring the innocent people of those countries the democracy of death and the freedom of the grave. We also ask our service members to risk their lives, and possibly ruin or end their lives, for the profit of corporations. It is insane, and it is obscene. This must end, and end soon.

This was never published.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Guantanemo prisoner and guard meet up

Part One

Part Two

Letter sent to Ash Citizen Times 010910

Words of wisdom from Martin Luther King, Jr: I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government.”

Here at home, we do not take care of the poor; instead we take care of the rich. We do not take care of our sick, our homeless, our educational systems. Instead, we spend trillions on making war, building thousands of military bases on foreign soil, and destroying other parts of the world for assorted made up reasons.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now.” And he is correct – continuing on this path that will one day lead to our own self-destruction. We must change course.

The above was not published.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Letter to Mtn Express 010910

I am often distressed at how our country and elected officials keep making war, war and more war. It is a failed and unproductive policy that will bankrupt us (financially and spiritually) and has destroyed the lives of millions of innocent people. And there is no end in sight.

Remember ‘shock and awe’? That bombing campaign was supposed to get Saddam and his imaginary WMDs. It only killed innocent people who lived in Iraq. That was well over six years ago, and today the Iraqi people are seeing extraordinary increases in birth defects and cancer rates. Millions of them fled the country of their birth and they are not going to return. It is a hideous, murderous crime we fostered on them.

And now it appears we will be doing the same thing to Afghanistan, under a different president. Afghanistan currently has one of the most corrupt governments in the world. President Karzai was recently “elected” for the next five years in a fraud-filled election. We are fighting over there to preserve a very corrupt government which the native population does not support.

Mr. Obama somehow managed to get a ‘peace prize’ while running two occupations and bombing a third country, Pakistan. Hundreds of civilians have been killed by drone bombings in Pakistan, and in just one year, the Obama administration killed more civilians there than the Bush administration ever did.

Those drone bombings are directed by the CIA, who had a suicide bomber (a double agent) onto their base, with the resulting death of one Jordanian intelligence official, two Blackwater mercenaries, and five CIA operatives. Reportedly this suicide bomber was a double (or triple?) agent and (according to Reuters) was connecting with the Haqqani network in Pakistan. Back in the 1980’s under the Reagan administration, the Haqqani network was still in Afghanistan, and they were our friends. The CIA armed them with stinger missiles, funded and trained them, in order to kick Russia out of Afghanistan. Today, they are in Pakistan and fighting to kick the USA out of Afghanistan.

The Haqqani network is also connected with the Pakistani ISI, and they are reluctant to take action against them – because they have not attacked in Pakistan. I really don’t think the CIA knows what they are doing. They are sure killing people though, and those deaths are inspiring protests in Pakistan, just like the Afghan deaths are inspiring protests in Afghanistan. I would bet they are inspiring more than protests.

Just last month, I heard the US was behind some bombings in Yemen which killed almost two dozen children. If this turns out to be true, we will be occupying two countries and bombing two more. Who knows? Maybe there are even more countries we are bombing.

We are spending more on our military, and our wars and bombings and occupations of foreign countries, than we are spending on infrastructure here at home. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” This is a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., and I agree with him.

This letter was never published. CORRECTION: It was published on 1-27-10.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti a few weeks back, in happier times

They are certainly not lacking in art, music, or dance!

Afghan civilian deaths up 14% in 2009

Photo: Afghans look at coffins of three of four people killed in a NATO overnight raid in Qara Bagh district through the Ghazni city, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010. NATO said Thursday that four insurgents were killed during a raid in the Qara Bagh district of Ghazni province the night before, but villagers insisted the dead were civilians. (AP Photo/Rahmatullah Naikzad)

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has reported that there were over 2,400 civilian deaths in 2009, with thousands more injured. This is an increase of 14% over prior years. The Taliban are responsible for killing the most civilians, mainly by IEDs and suicide attacks. There were also some targeted killings. The US Marines and pro-government Afghan forces are also doing some of the killing.

This is continuing. Here is a report from this year, 2010, where US Marines and Afghan troops fired on protesters for the second time within a week.

Troops fire on crowd in Afghanistan

At least five Afghan civilians were wounded when a combined force of Afghan troops and US Marines opened fire on a crowd at the gate to a military base in Helmand, Afghanistan's most volatile province, Nato said today. The incident, which took place on Wednesday but was not reported until Friday, was the second demonstration to turn violent in two days in Helmand's Garmsir district, suggesting mounting civil unrest in a part of the country where US Marines under Nato command made major advances last year.

This incident happened a day after US Marines fired on protesters in Helmand province. The local Afghans reported that eight people were killed and thirteen were injured in that incident.

The conflict is spreading, it is getting worse, and the civilians are the ones to pay the price - as always.

Here is a report from the UN Integrated Regional Information Network.

Afghans in the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Nimruz, Uruzgan and Zabul, where the conflict is the most intense, were the most severely affected, the report said.

The average monthly number of security incidents was 960 in 2009 - up from 741 in 2008 (a 29.6 percent rise). “The conflict has intensified: it has spread, affecting previously tranquil areas, such as in the northeast, and deepened as it has moved from rural to urban areas.”

The conflict has also destroyed infrastructures and livelihoods, displaced communities, and eroded the quality and availability of basic services in the country, it said.

This turns out to result in the killing of three children a day (on average). Children are the biggest victims in wars - as always. According to an Afghan human rights watchdog, more than 1,050 children were killed last year alone. Again, the Taliban were responsible for the majority of the deaths (around 64%) with NATO and pro-government Afghans responsible for the rest.

We certainly are not doing a very good job of protecting the children of Afghanistan. And, in some cases, it is US forces that are killing them off.

Afghan war kills three children a day

Children were also press-ganged, sexually exploited, deprived of health and education, and illegally detained by all sides in a war that is dragging into its ninth year since the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime. "At least three children were killed in war-related incidents every day in 2009 and many others suffered in diverse but mostly unreported ways," ARM director Ajmal Samadi said. Children died in suicide attacks and roadside bombings -- at the crux of the Taliban's arsenal against US, NATO and Afghan troops fighting the increasingly virulent insurgency as it spreads across the impoverished country.

…….. Reports that foreign forces killed eight students in Kunar province on December 26 caused widespread outrage, including US flag-burning demonstrations in two cities, though reports of what happened varied widely.

2009 has been the deadliest year for Afghans since the US-led invasion and occupation. This has been the worst year ever for the Afghan people – our troops and NATO troops are not protecting the civilians from the Taliban. And the increase in US troops there is not making the situation better.

Oftentimes, the civilians get caught in the crossfire. About a third of the time, they are directly killed by US or NATO or pro-government Afghan forces. Many more are wounded.

’09 Deadliest year for Afghans, UN says

Indeed, airstrikes are the main cause of civilian deaths by the coalition. Even with the new guidelines, which took effect in the middle of last year, 359 Afghans were killed in airstrikes in 2009, the United Nations survey found. One of the worst of these came on Sept. 4, when German troops called in an airstrike after militants hijacked a fuel convoy near the northern city of Kunduz. But the trucks had stalled in a riverbed, and local residents had gathered around them. The bombing killed at least 72 civilians, the United Nations report said.

But no one can claim that the US military is not learning from their mistakes. Why, take a look at this amazing evidence of insight to Afghan culture, from the same article as above:

“In the Afghan culture, a man’s home is more than just his residence,” a draft of the new guidance said. “It represents his family, and protecting it is closely intertwined with his honor. He has been conditioned to respond aggressively whenever he perceives his home or honor is threatened.

Of course, here in the USA, if armed foreign troops showed up in the middle of the night, the typical US male would invite them in, and then serve them tea and cookies. He would never respond aggressively!! Why, I am sure he would be the perfect example of understanding, patience, respect and good manners to the armed foreigners who disturbed his sleep. And that is because no one in the USA would think of their home as something other than a simple residence to eat and sleep in. And, here in the USA, families are easily interchangeable, as our divorce rate shows. The article goes on to state:

“We should not be surprised that night operations elicit such a response,” the guidance said, “which we then often interpret as the act of an insurgent.”

Why, yes, I can see why they might get confused, since US males would respond in a totally passive and deferential way to armed foreigners inside the typical American “residence”. No one would confuse them with “insurgents”.

Now, I wrote most of this blog post last weekend. The story just above is from January 14, 2010. But, apparently a week later, they are still learning the lesson that they claimed to have learned already. Because today, the US and NATO forces said they are going to “tighten” the rules for home invasions in Afghanistan in the middle of the night. This report (exclusive to AP!) came after four people were killed in a NATO raid just last night. The locals insist that the dead were unarmed civilians.

It’s an article from the WaPo, so of course there is no mention of the times in the recent past that the US military said the very same things. That would be way too hard for a SERIOUS newspaper in the US to handle. Here’s what they named the story:

AP Exclusive: US to tighten rules on Afghan raids

NATO forces in Afghanistan are preparing to limit night raids on private homes, even if it means losing some tactical advantage, to curb rising public anger.

Oh, it’s an exclusive all right. Exclusively stupid to repeat what the US military said last week, but didn’t mean, and then pretend the US military never said it before. Bet they have another ‘exclusive’ next week.

The US military had this to say:

The U.S. and allied nations have made protecting the population a priority over the use of massive firepower as they seek to undermine support for the Taliban.

Hey, how’s that working out? Well, another 500 Afghans came out to demonstrate against the US and current Afghan government TODAY. I think we can mark them as NON-supporters of the current US project there in Afghanistan.

Sure glad those US military guys are learning something there after 8 FUCKING YEARS IN AFGHANISTAN. (Or, are they? How often do they have to report learning this lesson?)

The anatomy of America’s defeat in Afghanistan

(h/t to Iraq today for the above link.)

Afghans protest the results of a night raid

Lead us out of Afghanistan!

I signed the petition to tell President Obama to lay out an exit strategy and timetable for the Afghanistan War in his State of the Union address.

Take action and sign the petition here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.

"This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." -- MLK

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Afghans shall live in peace one day

Which human will we humans torture next?
We Afghans shall live in peace some day
We shall overcome some day
Now is the time to pause in empathy or perish in estrangement

Love and peace,
Hakim in Afg

Compiled by Kate Cowley:

January 18, 2010
Dear Friends,

This morning, on Day Eight of our fast, we gathered together for a conference call with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. They have been fasting for two days in solidarity with all of us.

It is difficult to try to encapsulate the richness of the dialogue we exchanged with this group of young people so dedicated to the struggle for peace and justice, and so entrenched in the sorrow and pain of war. The dialogue and connections across such a distance was very inspiring to all of us.

At one point in the conversation, Jerica mentioned to them that we’ve been singing a lot lately, and asked if they sing songs together. They in turn asked us to sing for them, and so Kathy led us in another round of “Hold on, keep your eyes on the prize.” They returned the favor by singing a song for us in Arabic that translates into English as: “Mountains cannot reach mountains, only men can reach men.”

Carmen brought up that it was Martin Luther King Day and asked if they were aware of the significance of this day in the history of the U.S. They responded to this by reading to us MLK quotes in Arabic that they had learned together. It was quite a fitting close to our conversation and a beautiful homage to Martin Luther King Jr. We will keep these young Afghan Peace Volunteers in our hearts and be with them in their struggle!

The Brits show us how to do it....

Title: Alistair Campbell Arrives To Give Evidence At The Iraq Inquiry.

Caption: LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12: An anti-war protestor holds a placard outside the Iraq Inquiry on January 12, 2010 in London, England. Alistair Campbell, press secretary to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the most prominent figure thus far to face the inquiry, will give evidence relating to the build up to the Iraq war and the handling of the aftermath. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Date created: 12 Jan 2010

His sign says that Blair, Campbell, Scarlet need to go to The Hague for war crimes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Peaceable Assembly Campaign - Jan 19 to Feb 2

A Campaign to Demand Alternatives to U.S. Militarism

"we can bomb the world to pieces, but we can't bomb the world to peace"

Cancer rates exploding in Iraq

A very serious after-effect of the US/UK invasion and occupation of Iraq is the exploding rates of cancer. It is reported to be “spreading like wildfire” in places like Fallujah, Babil province, and Basra. All were sites of heavy bombardment with weapons coated with massive amounts of depleted uranium. These areas are also seeing a significant rise in birth defects.

Cancer- The deadly legacy of the invasion of Iraq
In Falluja, which was heavily bombarded by the US in 2004, as many as 25% of new- born infants have serious abnormalities, including congenital anomalies, brain tumors, and neural tube defects in the spinal cord.

The cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 in 2009 according to Al Jazeera English.

In Basra there were 1885 diagnosed cases of cancer in 2005. According to Dr. Jawad al Ali, director of the Oncology Center, the number increased to 2,302 in 2006 and 3,071 in 2007. Dr. Ali told Al Jazeera English that about 1,250-1,500 patients visit the Oncology Center every month now.

One doctor does draw a direct correlation between the depleted uranium and the cancers and birth defects.

Dr. Ahmad Hardan, who served as a special scientific adviser to the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the Iraqi Ministry of Health, says that there is scientific evidence linking depleted uranium to cancer and birth defects. He told Al Jazeera English, "Children with congenital anomalies are subjected to karyotyping and chromosomal studies with complete genetic back-grounding and clinical assessment. Family and obstetrical histories are taken too. These international studies have produced ample evidence to show that depleted uranium has disastrous consequences."

The cancer rates increased after both the 1991 war and the 2003 invasion and occupation. This increase happened five to six years after the bombardment, which is why we are seeing such an increase in 2008-2009.

There is also an increase in birth defects seen in Afghan children, and in children of US military who served in the 1991 war and 2003 invasion and occupation. Below under the fist comment is a you tube report from Al Jazeera on this horrible after-effect of the US/UK invasion, occupation and destruction in Iraq. And locals in the affected area are certainly blaming depleted uranium for these cancers and birth defects.

At least someone has the backbone to call this war and occupation of Iraq what it truly is: A MONSTROUS CRIME.

The war in Iraq had "no basis in international law", a Dutch inquiry found today, in the first ever independent legal assessment of the decision to invade. In a series of damning findings, a seven-member panel in the Netherlands concluded that the war, which was supported by the Dutch government following intelligence from Britain and the US, had not been justified in law.
It was the work of evil from start to finish.

Inside Iraq from al Jazeera English

You can bet your last dollar that the rest of the world knows about this, even as Americans are ignorant.

Monday, January 18, 2010

In honor of one of my favorite Americans

"I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." - Rev. Martin Luther King

Sunday, January 17, 2010

well, good luck with that....

from a NYT article:
The World Food Program finally was able to land flights of food, medicine and water on Saturday, after failing on Thursday and Friday, an official with the agency said. Those flights had been diverted so that the United States could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety.
“There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti,” said Jarry Emmanuel, the air logistics officer for the agency’s Haiti effort. “But most of those flights are for the United States military.

He added: “Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed. We have got to get those priorities in sync.”

If the US military was there to do some good, they would be out on the streets getting water and food to these people. Instead, they are working on their little militarization project, and pretty soon we will hear of them shooting and killing Haitians.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I realized that I had not posted anything on this blog about the tragedy of Haiti. I have posted on facebook, and I have sent out emails to everyone in my email book. I have made two donations to Partners in Health, an excellent organization that has been working in Haiti for almost 25 years. I first heard about them while reading a book my sister had sent me called MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS. I highly recommend that book.

Here is the email I sent out earlier this week:

Hello all,

Last time I emailed everyone in my address book was for the tsunami in Dec 2004. This situation is another natural disaster where your contributions WILL save lives. And if you know anyone who is an orthopedic surgeon, the organization Partners in Health needs them. Please forward this email to them. Other medical people are also needed.

Partners in Health is an organization founded by Dr. Paul Farmer. His life story is written in the book MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS. I highly recommend that book, because what he has done is remarkable.

There are lots of organizations that are trying to help in Haiti, but this organization has been there for over 20 years, speaks the language, and has hospitals outside Port a Prince. The walking wounded are already showing up at their hospitals, and they are starting a field hospital in PaP tomorrow. None of their hospitals or staff were hurt by this earthquake because they are outside PaP. Doctors without Borders are reporting that all of their hospitals are destroyed in PaP. I have heard rumors that they have had a 100 staff killed. The situation is horrific.

Here is Partners in Health's story - hope you can make a donation. THANK YOU!!!

Over the past 18 hours, Partners In Health staff in Boston and Haiti have been working to collect as much information as possible about the conditions on the ground, the relief efforts taking shape, and all relevant logistics issues in order to respond efficiently and effectively to the most urgent needs in the field. At the moment, PIH's Chief Medical Officer is on her way to Haiti, where she will meet with Zanmi Lasante leadership and head physicians, who are already working to ensure PIH's coordinated relief efforts leveraging the skills of more than 120 doctors and nearly 500 nurses and nursing assistants who work at Zanmi Lasante's sites.

We have already begun to implement a two-part strategy to address the immediate need for emergency medical care in Port-au-Prince. First, we are organizing the logistics to get the medical staff and supplies needed for setting up field hospital sites in Port-au-Prince where we can triage patients, provide emergency care, and send those who need surgery or more complex treatment to our functioning hospitals and surgical facilities. To do this, we are creating a supply chain through the Dominican Republic. Second, we are ensuring that our facilities in the Central Plateau are ready to serve the flow of patients from Port-au-Prince. Operating and procedure rooms are staffed, supplied, and equipped for surgeries and we have converted a church in Cange into a large triage area. Already our sites in Cange and Hinche are reporting a steady flow of people coming with medical needs from the capital city. In the days that come we will need to make sure our pharmacies and supplies stay stocked and our staff continue to be able to respond.

Currently, our greatest need is financial support. Haiti is facing a crisis worse than it has seen in years, and it is a country that has faced years of crisis, both natural disaster and otherwise. The country is in need of millions of dollars right now to meet the needs of the communities hardest hit by the earthquake. Our facilities are strategically placed just two hours outside of Port-au-Prince and will inevitably absorb the flow of patients out of the city. In addition, we need cash on-hand to quickly procure emergency medical supplies, basic living necessities, as well as transportation and logistics support for the tens of thousands of people that will be seeking care at mobile field hospitals in the capital city. Any and all support that will help us respond to the immediate needs and continue our mission of strengthening the public health system in Haiti is greatly appreciated. Help us stand up for Haiti now.

If you are not in a position to make a financial contribution, you can help us raise awareness of the earthquake tragedy. Please alert your friends to the situation and direct them to for updates and ways to help.

Donate now to support our earthquake relief efforts
Share this important update with a friend

Thank you for your solidarity during this crisis,

Ophelia Dahl
Executive Director


I had SIX people email me and say that they were going to make a donation to Partners in Health. That is wonderful! I made two donations earlier, and I am going to try and sell some old kayak stuff (still in good shape - a paddle and a drysuit) to raise some more money.

Message of peace from Afghans

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Al Jazeera report on deadly raid in Yemen

Just how stupid is our military?

This one, from a NYT article, came from some new directives being given to our troops. It blew me away:

"In the Afghan culture, a man's home is more than just his residence," a draft of the new guidance said. "It represents his family, and protecting it is closely intertwined with his honor. He has been conditioned to respond aggressively whenever he perceives his home or honor is threatened.

And here in the USA, if armed foreigners show up at our doors, the passive and overly nice and reasonable American man would say "come on in!"

Jebesus, how did so many stupid people get into our military and then become Generals?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Our founding fathers envisioned a nation that gave individuals certain freedoms (inalienable rights) and greatly circumscribed the powers of the Federal government, especially the executive branch.

The new nation of the United States of America was a radical and LIBERAL departure from the prevailing governance in the world at that time. It came to be the new model that so much of the world has formed their institutions upon.

But we have strayed--- Badly. I was to see a restoration of the founding fathers original vision, taking into account the developments in industry and technology since.

First and most importantly, our federal government, the legislature in particular, must be again made responsible to the people they (supposedly) represent. Corporate influence in our nation’s capital should not just be curtailed but totally eliminated. Teddy Roosevelt did it 100 years ago, we need to restore that principal immediately.

Without corporate influence, the pressure to maintain a far-flung empire will be greatly reduced. We should have few, if any, military bases outside our nation’s borders. There should be few inside our borders also. There was a robust debate at the constitutional convention about the need for a standing army. As a result, the second amendment was formed, essentially giving the states power to raise armies and the Federal government the ability to request use of those militias when the nation was attacked.

In light of the advances in global reach and technology it would seem prudent to maintain a core, or skeleton, standing military which can be quickly expanded and mobilized in a time of urgent need. I firmly believe that defense is something that you undertake on your own territory and that any use of force outside of the borders is aggression and to be avoided at all times. This core military would warehouse and maintain equipment and provide a base leadership structure. The overwhelming majority of the forces would be men and women who were kept trained and organized under states’ governments to be available when the state determines that it is in our common interest to act against a common threat. I would further suggest that service to the state would be compulsory with military service being the common service but alternative service being available to others who object.

With this new military structure there will be far fewer resources devoted to destruction of peoples overseas and thus our relations with other nations should greatly benefit. We have one of the most easily defended territories in the world, all we truly need is a credible defense structure and most any adversary would think twice before attacking.

I would also like to see an economic system that focuses less on quantity of commerce and more on the satisfaction and enjoyment of the population. Instead of the GNP and NYSE being the key figures tracked every day, we would report on the GDH, or Gross Domestic Happiness index. All corporations would be chartered for a period of no more than ten years and their charter renewed only if they were able to show how they had benefited their employees and the state in general. No corporation would be able to own an interest in another corporation and the share holders would directly choose the board of directors of the corporation with no input from management.

Our founding fathers had revulsion towards aristocracy and wished to see no ruling class established in their new Republic. Thus the inheritance tax should be reinforced and the income tax should become more progressive with a top tax rate of at least 75%. This would give a disincentive to greed and, thus corruption.

Furthermore, the commerce clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) of the constitution should be revisited with an eye towards leaving more power to the states, thus weakening the central government.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Eight years of injustice

As of today, it has been eight years since the first prisoner entered Guantanamo Bay. Eight years of not following the rule of law, eight years of violation of the Geneva Conventions, and eight years of human rights abuses.

And yet it continues.

And torture continues too.

I don’t recognize the country that I grew up in.

There are over a hundred people who are going to DC to start a fast to mark their opposition to torture and illegal detention. They are calling it fast for justice.

Justice Delayed, Justice Denied: Witness Against Torture Responds to Obama

Echoing the policies of Bush, Obama proposes the indefinite detention, without charge or trial, of detainees against whom no case has been built or from whom "evidence" was obtained through torture. The Obama Justice Department repeatedly invokes the "state secrets" defense to beat back legal efforts of those kidnapped and tortured to receive acknowledgment of their injury and compensation for it. And it has steadfastly refused to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute those who designed and ordered torture policies, choosing instead a limited inquiry into the most egregious cases of "unauthorized" detainee abuse.

Friday, January 08, 2010

From Democracy Now today

The Obama White House has continued the Bush administration policy of refusing to recognize the legal rights of foreign prisoners held overseas.

This is very sad.

War will not end terrorim.....

since war IS TERRORISM. This is from Afghan youth for peace.

Their website for videos is Journey to Smile.

I wish them peace.

Monday, January 04, 2010

More Afghan civilians killed under Obama than Bush

The United Nations released figures this week showing that civilian deaths rose 10.8 percent in the first 10 months of 2009 to 2,038, up from 1,838 for the same period of 2008.

The UN report says that the vast majority were killed by insurgents – who are trying to overthrow the current Karzai government or to throw out the foreign troops. In other words, they were often caught in the crossfire, often by homemade bombs such as IEDs. The civilian casualties for 2008 were reportedly 40% higher than for 2007, and with a 10% increase over that, well, we have a very bad trend going on here.

Afghan civilian casualties up 10% per UN

In 2008, a total of 2,118 civilians were killed in the crossfire, the highest such toll since the 2001 US-led invasion removed the Taliban from power and sparked a fierce insurgency by remnants of the regime. The war blighting Afghanistan is now into a ninth year and has escalated through 2009 as more international troops have been injected into the theatre, leading to more battles with Taliban-led militants.


And we are sending another 40,000 troops to join the 110,000 international troops already stationed there. We are also surging in the number of 'contractors' in Afghanistan.

And while the majority of civilians killed in the first ten months of the year 2009 were killed by the Taliban or insurgents, both US and NATO forces have killed civilians in several incidents. Of course, some times who is killing civilians is unknown.

Armed men gun down six civilians in East Afghanistan

Six civilians were killed as unknown armed men opened fire on a car in Nangarhar province east of Afghanistan, a private television channel reported Wednesday. Unidentified armed men sprayed bullets on a car in Pachiragam district Tuesday afternoon leaving six civilians dead, Tolo broadcast in its news bulletin. In a similar incident, unidentified armed men killed a former government employee in the neighboring Laghman province on the same day.

First, a look at a couple of the more notorious cases of killing mass numbers of civilians in Afghanistan in 2009.

RAWA’s collection of photos of massacre of 147 civilians when US dropped bombs on the villages of Gerani and Gangabad in Farah Province on May 5, 2009.

There is also a video report below in the comments.

Last September, there was a bombing by NATO of two hijacked fuel trucks. The locals were told to get some fuel out by the Taliban, and then German forces proceeded to bomb them. Up to 90 people were killed.

Germany’s highest ranking soldier ended up resigning over that incident.


On December 2, 2009, six civilians died in a NATO raid in Laghman province, at least according to President Karzai.

Foreign forces kill school children and adults in Afghanistan

Mr Karzai condemned the killing of six civilians during a NATO raid in early December as US Defence Secretary Robert Gates vowed US troop reinforcements would keep civilian deaths to a minimum. Mr Karzai's office said six civilians, including a woman, died when troops from ISAF conducted an operation in Laghman province on the night of December 2.

On December 8, 2009, the Afghan government claimed that NATO forces killed six civilians in a pre-dawn operation in eastern Afghanistan. NATO said that only militants died.

About 400 people marched on Mehtar Lam to protest the deaths, carrying bodies of some of the dead, said provincial government spokesman Said Ahead Safi. Groups of men laid the blanket-wrapped bodies on wooden cots, which they hoisted above them as they walked, footage from Associated Press Television News showed. "Whoever came onto the roof of their home, they killed them. Some were killed inside their houses," said Ismail, a villager who only gave one name and said he lost seven members of his family. "All those killed were innocent villagers, farmers. The Americans even killed our women."

NATO later admitted that there may have been civilians killed. One of the dead was a women.

On December 12, 2009, there was a report that two civilians were killed by NATO forces in Alisher district of Khost province. The bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs.

Two civilians allegedly killed by NATO forces

Police Chief Colonel Yaqub said police found two unidentified corpses at 4am this morning in the area and shifted them to Khost's civil hospital. Journalism and Human Rights Director for southeastern zone, Dr Rafiullah, who also witnessed the bodies, said the deceased's hands were tied behind their back with plastic cuffs which could only be found with US soldiers.

The next incident took place on December 18, 2009. The NATO forces claim they were targeting someone planting roadside bombs. Why, then, did they hit a minibus? They also claimed that they saw a ‘car’ besides the bomb-planters after firing. Got to wonder about their vision…. Or truth-telling ability. And this was not even a drone strike!

NATO air strike ‘kills three Afghan civilians’

A NATO air strike against suspected militants in troubled southern Afghanistan killed three civilians and wounded one other, local government and hospital officials said Friday. The civilians were in a minibus travelling just before midnight on the main southern highway when they were attacked by helicopter gunships in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province, the provincial governor's office said. "Three male civilians have been killed and a woman has been wounded as a result of this attack," a statement read. Their bodies were taken back to their home province of Uruzgan, the provincial health director told AFP.

Next is the incident on December 26 or 27, 2009 which has generated some media attention, even in the US. One of December’s killings of civilians was a NATO operation in Kunar Province. NATO claims it was insurgents that were killed, but locals claim it was mainly school-age boys. President Karzai has weighed in on the situation.

Afghans say inquiry shows boys were killed in allied action

Nonetheless, on Wednesday, in a statement e-mailed to reporters, Mr. Karzai’s office left little doubt that the president believed that international forces had committed a serious crime against civilians, portraying an episode that, if substantiated, would make the deaths some of the most egregious of the war. “The delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village, in Narang District of the eastern province of Kunar, and took 10 people from 3 homes, 8 of them school students in grades 6, 9 and 10, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead,” said the statement from the president’s office.

The UN weighed in on this incident too.

The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students and warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces because they often cause civilian deaths. The Afghan government said its investigation has established that all 10 people killed Sunday in a remote village in Kunar province were civilians. Its officials said that eight of those killed were schoolchildren aged 12-14.

… A statement issued Thursday by the Afghan National Security Directorate said the government investigation showed no Afghan forces were involved and "international forces from an unknown address came to the area and without facing any armed resistance, put 10 youth in two rooms and killed them. "They conducted this operation on their own without informing any security or local authorities of Afghanistan," the statement said.

This is from Democracy Now program.

Afghan Investigators Accused Int’l Forces of Killing Schoolboys

NATO officials have denied civilians were killed, but Afghan investigators said nearly all those killed were school-age boys. In a statement released yesterday, President Hamid Karzai’s office said that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village and took ten people from three homes. Karzai’s office said all of the people detained were shot dead.

And this incident also has reports of the dead having been handcuffed before being executed.

Western Troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children

American-led troops were accused yesterday of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten people dead. Afghan government investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims were handcuffed before being killed.

…..In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building. “First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.” A local elder, Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and five were handcuffed before they were shot. “I saw their school books covered in blood,” he said.

On December 28, 2009, we have this short report:

Meantime, locals say that air strikes against Taliban hideouts in Balamirghab district claimed the lives of three civilians and injured four others.

The incident below happened on December 29, 2009.

Four Afghan civilians killed in Baglan air raid

Four civilians have reportedly been killed and eight others wounded in a fresh air strike by foreign forces in northern Baghlan province, residents alleged on Tuesday. The overnight attack took place in Kohna Qala area of Baghlan-i-Markazi district, residents told Pajhwok Afghan News.

The four civilians killed were reportedly a father and his three sons who were running from the bombardment. The head of the local district hospital reported that there were eight injured, with a women and a child in critical condition. A local police chief claims that the victims were Taliban fighters.

The next incident took place on December 30, 2009.

More civilians deaths claimed in Afghanistan

An airstrike by international forces in the southern Afghan province of Helmand killed seven civilians, two Taliban and wounded another civilian, an Afghan official said Friday. Dawud Ahmadi, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the attack took place Wednesday after an international patrol came under fire from insurgents and called for air support. NATO said it was aware of the reports and was investigating.

Another report of the above incident (at least, I think it is the same incident).

Civilians again killed in NATO airstrike in Afghanistan

At least eight villagers were killed and two injured in an airstrike by NATO forces in Helmand province in Afghanistan, local officials reported Thursday. A spokesman for the provincial government said a house near the provincial capital Lashkar Gah was hit in the airstrike.

Killing Afghan civilians clearly did not take a Christmas vacation.

Well, needless to say, Afghans are not happy about all this bombing and shooting of civilians – or, at least people they believe are civilians, and as far as I can tell, their perceptions are correct. There have been several demonstrations during December alone. Here is a report on one of them:

In response to the attack on December 27, 2009, hundreds of Afghans protested in Jalalabad and shouted ‘death to Obama’ and burned Obama in effigy. This protest took place on December 30, 2009.

Afghans condemn ‘civilian deaths’

In Kabul, the Afghan capital, a crowd of around a hundred, mostly young men, gathered in a western district to vent their frustration at the killings. "Obama! Obama! Take your soldiers out of Afghanistan!" the protesters chanted, wearing blue headbands with the words: "Stop killing us!" Others held placards with pictures of young dead children they said were killed by foreign troops.

….. Although UN figures show far more civilians are killed by the Taliban, deaths at the hands of foreigners spark wide resentment and undermine international forces' attempts to weaken the Taliban by building trust among the peaceful population.

I have not seen those photos of the dead children, and I looked. I did find pictures of children from Yemen who were reportedly killed by US bombs in December. Of course, Americans have not seen the photos of either Afghan or Yemen children on their TVs, so for the VAST majority of them, it is like these incidents never happened. And if they are told that the dead people are Taliban or insurgents, they will accept this without even thinking.

Just the other day, there was quite the discussion about the December 26 or 27 bombing in Afghanistan here on Daily Kos. (The date is uncertain because it either happened late at night or early in the morning.) Some people who comment here felt there should be more links in the diary, because they just flat out did not believe David Swanson. Now anyone who knows David and his work knows that it is well resourced. He knows his stuff. This diary, which is well-linked and well-resourced, will likely be ignored or attacked for putting the blame on Obama.

Further, people who commented here also feel that we need to stay in Afghanistan because we some how ‘owe’ the people there our ‘protection’. Of course, just seeing how many civilians we have killed would cause reasonable people to come to the quick conclusion that we are not HELPING AT ALL. But here is a more reasoned argument to rebut the silly idea that we are there to bring freedom and democracy:

The best argument for the Afghan war – and what’s wrong with it

For those of us on the left, the best argument in favor of the Afghan war is . . . that we have an obligation to the Afghan people -- especially to the feminists, secular teachers, labor organizers, health workers, democrats, all those working to build a secular, civil society. We encouraged them to help create a real alternative to religious fundamentalism. It would be wrong now to abandon them to the Taliban.

…. If we accept the argument that we have incurred an obligation to protect democratic activists in Afghanistan, what exactly do we owe them? First of all, we owe it to them not to support an undemocratic government there. The Karzai government exists only because the United States created and sustained it, despite massive election fraud, monumental corruption, and myriad failures to win popular support.

If we accept the obligations argument, we also owe it to the Afghans to fight a different kind of war – to stop attacking and killing large numbers of civilians. The way we have been fighting the war creates more enemies than are killed. . . . That means the US military must "stop killing civilians, work locally, disown corrupt officials, emphasize social and economic reconstruction." They have not been doing this for nine years, partly because that kind of careful, close-in fighting creates more American casualties than bombing suspected enemy locations.

Some argue that we are in Afghanistan to protect women and enable girls to go to school. Here is a bit from an article about Afghan women from Al Jazeera.

Eight years after the US-led invasion that was supposed to liberate Afghanistan, women are still living without the most basic rights, vulnerable to abuse and often deprived of education. Nobody cares about women," Fatana Gailini, the chairperson of Afghanistan's women's council, told Al Jazeera.

Late last Saturday night, I was listening to the BBC news on the radio. A journalist was reporting on how poor the people of Kabul are, and how the children swarmed him to beg for change, as did a few women. He talked to one man in Kabul how was desperate for a job, because his children were hungry. That Afghan said this:

“you have been here eight years now – and what have you done?”

Of course, many Afghans are facing starvation and death from the cold this winter, especially those living in IDP camps. They are in desperate shape, and the US/NATO is not doing anything to help them. In nearly all cases, it was US/NATO actions who caused these Afghans to become refugees from their homes. There is a video clip below that shows some Afghans in an IDP camp. One of the little girls in the video died shortly after the video was made by Rethink Afghanistan.

Hat tip to IRAQ TODAY for their daily updates on what is happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

News report on civilian massacre in May 2009

Rethink Afghanistan – civilian casualties

Afghans protest against December 2009 killings by NATO